What album do you think of when a person asks you ‘what is your favourite Jeff Beck album?’? I quite imagine most people answering that question would say, ‘Blow By Blow’, or ‘Wired’. A few brave souls might include ‘Roger the Engineer’, the only Yardbirds album that featured guitarist Jeff Beck on all tracks. Jeff Beck was very prolific with something in the area of 17 solo albums to his credit. He also collaborated on dozens of albums, way too many to list here, go to Discogs to see them. He also has nine live albums to his credit with one album from that list that I have to say is my favourite Jeff Beck recording.
That album is ‘Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live’. I doubt very much is this recording makes to many other lists, favourites or otherwise. So what is there about this recording that makes it my choice as favourite Jeff Beck album?
Jeff Beck is a guitar wizard and likes to play live, showcasing his licks. He also enjoys collaborating with other musicians in live venues. He also jams with other musicians and bands and feeds off that creativity and spontaneity. This album, ‘Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live.’ checks all of the boxes and comes across as an excellent live recording.
Beck’s guitar skips around the beats laid down by Tony “Thunder” Smith on percussion and Fernando Saunders on bass. Steve Kindler and Jan Hammer on all manner of keyboards and synthesizers flow throughout the album supporting Beck on his trusty weapon, his signature Stratocaster. There are times when they bounce off each other in a magical jam session that builds and showcases their immense talents.
Something to be aware of when listening is this bit of trivia that I found on Wikipedia, the stereo spectrum of this album duplicates the stage set-up with guitar positioned centre-right, keyboards centre left, violin right and drums and bass centre stage. I like the instruments’ interplay and how they seem to move across the room between my speakers. I found it best to sit as close to centre stage as possible and avoid distractions so I could fully appreciate the soundscape coming at me. I would give this recording a solid 4.2 out of 5 stars. Definitely worth the time spent listening to it.
Happy listening and play safe.